It’s all downhill from here for Newt … I’m predicting right here and now that Gingrich has hit his high point and is about to whither under the forthcoming information about his last 15 years spent in lobbying/influence-peddling activities. The following will make for a beautiful montage using the disgraced and ousted former Speaker’s own words … and the timing and subject are perfect for anyone who doesn’t want Newt as the nominee. Why? Because it’s Fannie and Freddie and Florida folks! Florida took a hit second only to Nevada in the housing crisis and these GSEs (Government Sponsored Entities) were at the root of the problem. This is the perfect storm. The script will play out perfectly.
Remember when Newt said on Fox News “I do no lobbying of any kind. I never have. A very important point to make. I have never done lobbying of any kind.”
How about his ludicrous initial claim back in the November CNBC debate that he was paid by them to be a “historian” who told them how “insane” they were?
Sure Newt. At least we now know that he was lying through his teeth. He released one year of this contract yesterday and there was no mention of him being a “historian” but rather he was hired as a “consultant” by and to the chief lobbyist of Freddie Mac. Well, as it turns out, “consultant” was just a euphemism for “lobbyist” and Newt’s whole story doesn’t pass the smell test.
Over a month ago, Mitt challenged Newt on this claim calling Newt “the highest paid historian in history”
The fact that Newt has only released one year of a six year contract is rather curious as well and the other contracts are apparently lost somewhere:
a spokeswoman for [Gingrich’s] firm said it was unable to find an earlier contract dating to 1999 and renewed until 2002. The spokeswoman, Susan Meyers, also could not say whether Gingrich or any of its employees produced any written reports for Freddie Mac as part of the nearly $1.8 million in consulting fees it was paid.
Well, today’s news from Politico is especially damning to Newt and proves that he was involved in hard core lobbying efforts for the controversial and beleaguered GSE:
New details from Newt Gingrich’s contracts worth $1.6 million with Freddie Mac show that the Republican hopeful wasn’t just a boardroom consultant, but served as a high-profile booster for the beleaguered organization. He even gave a rallying speech to dozens of the group’s political action committee donors in the spring of 2007.
Shortly after the “rah, rah” speech, as one source described it, Gingrich gave an interview for the Freddie Mac website, where he supported the group’s model at length. The interview is no longer on Freddie’s site.
Gingrich said in the interview that Freddie has “made an important contribution to home ownership and the housing finance system,” even though many Republicans revile it.
On April 3, 2007, Gingrich gave a presentation to employee donors of Freddie Mac’s political action committee, according to several sources familiar with the presentation. It was the “rah, rah” speech described by a source who worked closely with Freddie at the time. Newt spoke about what was going on in the country and he offered his view of the issues.
That same day, Gingrich spoke to a larger Freddie Mac employee cabal where he explained his vision for transforming bureaucratic government into a “21st century organization” — a signature talking point for Gingrich who focused on technology in government early on.
Later that month, Gingrich also gave a “feature interview” that appeared on Freddie Mac’s website providing an extensive Q&A where the former Speaker of the House defended the government-sponsored enterprise model, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.
Gingrich went so far as to say that “I’m convinced that if NASA were a GSE, we probably would be on Mars today.”
Freddie Mac declined to comment. A Gingrich spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The housing GSEs have made an important contribution to homeownership and the housing finance system,” Gingrich said in the interview. “We have a much more liquid an stable housing finance system than we would have without GSEs. So while we need to improve the regulation of the GSEs, I would be very cautious about fundamentally changing their role or the model itself.”
Further Gingrich acknowledged that this is not a viewpoint conservatives normally embrace. “Well, it’s not a point of view libertarians would embrace,” he said in the interview. “But I am more in the Alexander Hamilton-Teddy Roosevelt tradition of conservatism. I recognize that there are times when you need government to help spur private enterprise and economic development.”
Really Newt?!?!? Really People? This is the “conservative alternative” to Mitt?!?! Wow . . . Just wow . . .
These revelations make Newt both a liar and a lobbyist. Sounds like just what Obama would like to run against.
UPDATE #1: “Methinks [Newt] doth protest too much” . . . Politico makes a good point on something Newt revealed in last night’s debate.
Gingrich — adamant that he wasn’t a lobbyist as he explained why he only released one year of his Freddie Mac contract, which dated to 1999 (he uttered something about going through a confidentiality process) — volunteered that at his firm, they brought in a “lobbying expert” to explain to his team what qualified as lobbying and what didn’t.
That expert “is prepared to testify,” Gingrich said.
Romney didn’t pounce. But why one would hire a “lobbying expert” other than to explain to staff how to walk up to the “bright line” Gingrich described, but not legally cross it, was not clear.
So Newt’s got his lawyer ready to say that Newt never officially lobbied with Fannie/Freddie . . . or at least he was trained/coached as to where that line is. However, what’s that old saying that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . . ? Newt’s trying to be too cute by half, and it’s the beginning of the end for him!
The American people want a TRUE DC outsider, that man is NOT Newt . . . it’s Mitt!!
Update #2: Newt releases his 1999 contract now because it contained the following …
The contract specifically excluded lobbying services, stating “nothing herein is or shall be construed as an agreement to provide lobbying services of any kind or engage in lobbying activities.”
The second contract released Tuesday night provides more detail on the work Gingrich was hired to perform, including “serve as advisor to Freddie Mac in the areas of strategic planning and public policy.” It also called on Gingrich, who is mentioned by name in the second contract, to “engage in discussions” with Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist and senior officers “to strategize on approaches to Freddie Mac business opportunities and challenges.”
Gingrich, who was hired to help the company reach out to Republicans, also was expected to “contribute to Freddie Mac corporate planning and business goals” and to “meet with major stakeholders of Freddie Mac.”
The contract also states that “neither The Gingrich Group nor Newt Gingrich will provide lobbying services of any kind nor participate in lobbying activities on Freddie Mac’s behalf.”
OK, so the document essentially says that Newt is going to lobby for Freddie Mac, but that no one can call it or construe it as lobbying. That will play really well with folks, eh?
Even MORE revealing is that Newt’s campaign is trying to pull a switch-a-roo / misdirection trick here by releasing these contracts out of chronological order. So the 1999 contract says “no lobbying” but the 2006 contract contains no such phrase. Anyone notice a problem? Everyone knew and realized that Newt was lobbying and they couldn’t keep that terminology in the later contract. He would be more free in his activities advocating and lobbying in behalf of Freddie.
I believe another poster is going to address Newt’s lobbying to Congressmen for Medicare Part D when he was on the payroll as a consultant from several Pharmaceutical companies who would benefit from it’s passage. Kathleen Parker has just put up a column arguing my exact same point. Newt was a lobbyist:
Gingrich’s claim to have been hired as a historian, meanwhile, is a hard sell when no such role exists. It is also a stretch for him to present himself as an anti-establishment, Reagan-conservative rebel when he is raking in money for his association with companies, some of whose interests are anything but conservative.
Yet another mother lode for Gingrich has been the health care industry. Various companies paid Gingrich $55 million between 2001 and 2010, according to Bloomberg News. When asked what the companies received in return, Gingrich told The Post that they got to visit with “a really important guy who really knows a lot and who really has lots of information.” That person would be Gingrich’s Holy Trinity — Me, Myself and I.
He also earned more than a million from drugmaker Novo Nordisk, reportedly to help expand the U.S. market for its diabetes treatment. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this as long as Gingrich was honest about his role with the company. The company’s annual report to shareholders listed Gingrich under “public-policy activities,” which, the company added, “are often referred to as lobbying.”
He also personally urged GOP congressmen to support the $395 billion Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to, among others, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and former congressmen Jeff Bradley (R-N.H.) and Butch Otter (R-Idaho).
I saw a segment on CNN today with Wolf Blitzer where Rep. Flake flat out stated that Gingrich lobbied him hard on voting for Medicare Part D. Also in that piece I found this nugget:
A lobbyist for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae whose tenure overlapped with Gingrich’s told me on background that both signed the same contract. This person immediately registered as a lobbyist and said that Gingrich was clearly exerting his influence, though he may have been able to maintain a legal, if not entirely ethical, distance from the definition of lobbying.
Oh, and let’s not forget that before Newt’s ties to Freddie/Fannie had been revealed, he was the one spouting off the harshest rhetoric of any GOP candidate calling for investigations and even imprisonment of congressmen who had ties to or profits from Freddie/Fannie. Wonder if he’d like to roll back that charge, or if he’s willing to apply his own harsh charges to the man in the mirror.
So, do you take Newt at his word that “I do no lobbying of any kind. I never have. A very important point to make. I have never done lobbying of any kind.” . . . ?
Any way you slice it, Newt is serving up large portions of his own “pious baloney.”